I’ll admit it.
Have you moved from mild allurement to entrenched addiction with the Olympics in Rio yet?
Watching the Olympic athletes compete gets my blood pumping and churning.
Seeing a fellow human being perform with beauty, strength and perfection pleases me at a very deep level.
But when you and I watch these elite athletes compete, we are only seeing the effects of their prior training.
What about all of the painful practice sessions that preceded their performance?
Paul, the famous perfectionist-turned-pastor wrote to his young friend Tim a challenging text message about training a long time ago:
1 Timothy 4:7-8 Rather train yourself for godliness; 8 for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.
Did you notice that Tim was challenged to train for something greater than even a sport’s competition?
He was challenged to train for godliness.
· What exactly is godliness?
The Greeks used the word eusebeia (our word “godliness”) when they wanted to encourage people to devote 100 percent of their heart and soul to the gods.
Paul snatches this over-the-top devotional word and says “Tim, a Christian must train for a life that erupts with 110 percent ardent commitment, loyalty and love for the triune God.”
Is your heart enflamed with inward delight leading to outward acts in the service for our God of love?
Maybe your heart flickers weakly like a candle trying to light the darkness on a windy beach.
Did you know??--Our hearts often fail to exercise a fervent godliness because we live out of our “default training.”
We all exercise practices that give us pleasure and purpose driven by a selfish, godless training regimen.
We work-out in our self-oriented gymnasiums of
- Excessive Entertainment
- Excessive Social Media Surfing
- Over and Under-Eating
- Substance Abuse
- Even Athletic Addictions
Paul gave Tim two ways to de-train godlessness.
First, Paul highlighted how godliness holds promise for the present life.
Said another way, devoted commitment to God promises life now.
A present foundation and feeling of animated vitality connected to the very life of God NOW!
Our default training is to focus on our selfish demands NOW!
But we suck everyone and everything into the black holes of our demanding desires and bring death.
Let’s train for the opposite.
Let’s respond to God’s outgoing love for us in Christ by training in Godliness and living into Christ as the animating center of all that we think and do.
A devoted concern for God and His glory can break the spell of our obsessive self-concern.
How? Let’s worship together on Sunday
Pray for each other
Visit each other when we are sick or stuck
Share our stuff with each other
Be interested in the interests of others
and enjoy the joys that God gives us every moment in smaller groups of committed community as we walk through life together.
The second way to de-train godlessness is to look to the future.
The Olympic athlete trains for the future prize. The gold metal shimmers and glimmers on the horizon of their hope.
For the Christian, we not only have an effervescent, abundant life connected to God and others now, but we have the promise of a life knitted into God and others for eternity.
When we only look down in despair at our present suffering, we get locked in the labyrinth of our default training in self-absorption.
Let’s train for godliness by looking forward and toward our new destiny and hope.
· Life without a compelling horizon leaves us aimless, adrift and bored.
The Christ-follower is becoming more and more human again as we are living into rich and real relationships centered on God and others. The kingdom has broken in and re-creation is replacing ruin. Can you see it?
Hey. Grab a towel and join me for some training.
We’re gonna need each other as we disengage our default training and train for a life eagerly committed to Jesus.